Justia Business Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Georgia Supreme Court
Jordan v. Moses
Attorneys Jordan and Moses formed a two-member partnership in 2003 for an indefinite term and in 2006, Jordan communicated to Moses that he was contemplating ending the relationship, and later that month, stated that he was doing so. At issue was whether the Court of Appeals applied the proper legal analysis to the claim of wrongful dissolution of a partnership. Given that the Court of Appeals cited the disapproved language regarding "new prosperity" under Wilensky v. Blalock, it was unclear whether that court considered the evidence as indicative solely of Jordan's state of mind at the time he decided to dissolve the partnership, with a coincident intent to deprive Moses of some unidentified prospective business opportunity of the partnership, or whether the Court of Appeals considered the above evidence as showing that Jordan intended, through the dissolution, to retain a fee that was misappropriated from partnership funds. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case to that court for further proceedings. View "Jordan v. Moses" on Justia Law
Seiz Joint Venture, LLC v. Seiz
In divorce proceedings, wife added husband's company, SJV, as a party to the proceedings. SJV filed an application to appeal, which the court granted pursuant to the now-expired Pilot Project, by which the court granted all non-frivolous applications for discretionary review from a final judgment and decree of divorce. The court held that there was evidence to support the trial court's conclusion that, after wife filed for divorce, husband violated the Standing Order by transferring the Cobb County property from Seiz Joint Venture #1 to SJV. Based on this transfer of property that was properly the subject of the divorce proceedings, the trial court was authorized to add SJV as a party in order to ensure that wife might be afforded complete relief in the case. The court also held that SJV was not required to make wife a voting member of the company in order to facilitate her receipt of company distributions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.
Robins, et al. v. Supermarket Equipment Sales, LLC; Smith v. Supermarket Equipment Sales
SES is a company that makes and supplies outer components or "skins" for grocery store refrigeration units. SES was formed in 2009 when its immediate predecessor, SER, was foreclosed by its bank. SES subsequently sued appellants, employees of SER, for injunctive relief under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act (GTSA), OCGA 10-1-760 et seq. Appellants then appealed, contending that the trial court erred when it found SES had standing to sue and when it granted equitable relief after finding that the preemption clause of the GTSA was inapplicable. The court held that, based upon the unique facts of the case, the trial court did not err when it declined to deny SES's action for lack of standing. The court found, however, that the trial court manifestly abused its discretion when it granted equitable relief to SES because the trial court's reliance on Owens v. Ink Wizard Tattoos was erroneous and the GTSA superseded all conflicting laws providing restitution or civil remedies for the misappropriation of trade secrets. Accordingly, the trial court's award of equitable relief pursuant to OCGA 9-5-1 was a manifest abuse of discretion and must be reversed.
Grossi Consulting, LLC, et al. v. Sterling Currency Group, LLC
Sterling, a limited liability corporation engaged in the business of importing and selling Iraqi currency, hired Grossi, a company that specialized in web-based marketing strategies, in an effort to create an internet-based sales platform. After the parties' dispute over the modification of a compensation scheme by which Grossi was paid, Sterling filed suit against Grossi seeking a temporary restraining order, interlocutory and permanent injunctions, and damages. Grossi subsequently appealed the grant of interlocutory injunction in favor of Sterling, contending that the trial court erred by entering an interlocutory injunction that failed to preserve the status quo. The court found that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by entering the injunction in light of Grossi's threats to do harm to the website. The court also rejected Grossi's contention that the interlocutory order was, in reality, a mandatory, permanent injunction affecting the rights of the parties. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed.
Amerireach.com, LLC., et al. v. Walker
Dr. Carol Walker, a physician who sold nutritional supplements, filed a damage suit in the State Court of Gwinnet County against AmeriSciences and three of the company's corporate officers (appellants) under the Fair Business Act (FBPA), OCGA 10-1-399(b), for failure to disclose and comply with the repurchase requirements of the Sale of Business Opportunities Act (SBOA), OCGA 10-1-415(d)(1). On appeal, appellants contended that the Court of Appeals erred in failing to give res judicata effect to an earlier Texas declaratory judgment. The court held that Dr. Walker was barred by the Texas judgment from filing an FBPA claim against AmeriSciences in Georgia and a Georgia court could not make its own determination regarding whether the forum selection clause precluded the filing of an FBPA claim in Georgia. Also at issue was whether the State Court of Gwinnett County had personal jurisdiction over the individual defendants. The court held that because the "fiduciary shield" doctrine did not apply in Georgia, the allegations of the complaint were sufficient to withstand appellants' attack on the trial court's jurisdiction over the individual defendants on the ground that they acted in their corporate capacities. Appellants further contended that, even if the trial court had personal jurisdiction over the individual defendants, they could not be personally liable for violations of the SBOA because none of them was a "seller" within the meaning of OCGA 10-1-410(10). The court held that pursuant to OCGA 10-1-399(a) and 10-1-417(b), each individual defendant was subject to personal liability for any violation of the SBOA which he had committed and which was proved by Dr. Walker.
Brown, et al. v. Pounds, et al.; McGinnis, et al. v. Pounds, et al.
Cobb Electric Membership Corporation ("Cobb EMC") members filed a derivative action against Cobb EMC and the parties subsequently entered into a settlement agreement. At issue was whether the Court of Appeals erred by failing to defer to the trial court's determination that Cobb EMC's Board of Directors ("Board") was authorized to adopt the proxy voting bylaw agreement. Also at issue was whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the use of the proxy voting pursuant to the Board's bylaw amendment violated the provision of the settlement agreement. The court held that although the Court of Appeals mischaracterized the nature of the issue on appeal, it did utilize the correct standard for reviewing the trial court's legal conclusions, i.e., de novo review. The court also held that while it agreed with the conclusion that the Board's proxy voting bylaw amendment violated the terms of the settlement agreement, the Court of Appeal's reasoning was not the basis upon which the court's conclusion rested. The court held, nevertheless, that the Board's proxy voting bylaw amendment violated the trial court order approving the settlement agreement because it significantly changed the conditions under the parties' agreed-upon plan for proposing the option of proxy voting. The court finally held that, because the trial court's May 2009 order did not address the "full cooperation" requirement of its previous order, the Court of Appeals erred in considering the issue. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part.
Day v. Nu-Day Partnership, LLLP
Nu-Day Partnership, LLLP, ("Nu-Day"), a family limited partnership, filed an action against Norma Day for, among other things, quiet title in an attempt to clarify that Nu-Day was still the owner of certain property in Atlanta ("Bishop Street property"). At issue was whether Lon Day's 2001 transfer of his interest in LLD Management to his children was an ultra vires act and therefore void. The court held that an ultra vires act had nothing to do with the actions of an individual who simply chose to transfer his own interest in a company to other individuals, as such actions had nothing to do with the corporation itself acting beyond the scope of its legal authority. The court also held that the record indicated that Lon Day clearly intended to, and did, in fact, execute legal documents that transferred all of his interest in LLD Management to his children, who served as sole owners of Nu-Day.